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So trivial, yet it really ticks you off.

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by GHT, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. I was a boy chorister at a church on the near South Side of Chicago from the time I was ten until the choir disbanded when I was thirteen (1965- 1967). Grew up in the farther northwest suburbs: that meant that I often had to take a commuter train downtown, then either walk or utilize buses or subways to navigate the last three or so miles. The little darlings who attended my grade school rarely were allowed outside of our (then) lily white suburb, but I always felt more at home in the city. Hated the burbs then- but I especially hated the "we moved out here for the kids" mentality that so many parents mouthed. I didn't want to be sheltered or protected from life. I wanted to embrace it.

    That my mother allowed be to travel down to the Loop on my own scandalized a number of neighbors and even my aunt, but I think that it was a good thing. It taught me to exercise a lot of common sense at an early age- avoiding people and areas that didn't look "right," etc. I got to know my way around downtown Chicago better than my own suburb in short order, and pretty soon my adventurous side had me riding all of the subway and L lines. By the time I turned 11, I had ridden the entire system, solo. One of my favorite stunts after a rehearsal that ended around 6 PM was to ride the 50- plus year old cars on the Evanston Express up to Wilmette.. then trek back to the commuter station and not arrive home until after nine PM. My mom would ask what happened: I never lied. I'd tell her that I'd missed my train (didn't mention that I'd missed it intentionally, and she never asked). Finally fessed up to all of this when I was in my 20's and she only sighed, "Glad you didn't tell me then."

    My other pastime after summer weekday morning rehearsals was to hang around courtrooms and watch trials. To me, watching a good cross examination of a witness was more fun than watching a major leaguer pitch a no hitter. That planted the seed for my later career as a trial lawyer. I've often thought that becoming a subway/ L motorman ("operator") might have been a lot more fun, and likely could have paid better.... but I suppose I'll never know.

    I suppose that I learned to master a lot more than Fifteenth Century polyphony and Gregorian chant from those years as a second soprano. I learned to handle being in situations where kids were not usually expected. (Not "unwelcomed," as in a tavern: just not anticipated. ) I learned to go into a restaurant, order a meal, and leave a 15% tip at a time in life when other kids were trying to handle counting out change for the Good Humor man. I learned to enter a store, be polite, and not annoy the sales staff as a pesky kid. I remember one sweet older lady gently chiding me for being too mature: "You should be a kid. Not an adult!" Well, I cared less for kids then than I do now. My peers in school were, for the most part, an annoyance: I'd rather talk to adults about "the good old days" (the Depression, World War II, even the Roaring 20's) than talk with other kids.

    Irony is, as a parent, I practiced the same sheltering instinct that I scoffed as a kid when my own boys were pre- teen. The sad part is that the dangers to kids are not only in "the bad parts of the city." They're in the most affluent suburbs and small towns as well. The best way to protect a kid is to try to impart common sense and street smarts.. and that is much easier said than done. I think that it was then as well, but even more so now.

  2. They won't even let you take your newborn home in a car now unless you have an approved infant car seat. And as much as I wallow in nostalgia here as anyone else, that's likely a good thing. The newer car seats for kids really do prevent injuries. My oldest damned near gave me a heart attack when he learned how to escape from his car seat at about 2 years... but parenthood is a minefield fraught with such ordeals. He's 27 now, and if he's not home from class or work by a certain time I still worry about him.
  3. My "childhood car seat" was the car seat. Mom must surely have held me in her arms when I was an infant, but I can't recall ever sitting in a car seat specifically designed for small children, cardboard or otherwise. And if I had a friend (or friends) with me, we rode in the cargo area of dad's station wagon. Seat belts? Never used them until it became a legal requirement to do so, and even then I resisted for a while.
  4. I rode in the cardboard box until I was about two. THen they turned it upside down, put it in the middle of the seat, and I sat on top of it so I could see out the windshield.
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  5. Yup on the lawyers. But in truth, there has been a societal shift where a greater emphasis is put on safety versus "learning the hard way," or "just growing up." My parents were in the later group, but friends of mine with younger parents than mine (my dad was 40 when I was born) tended to put more of an emphasis on safety. And, IMHO, every decade since has upped the safety concern.

    Here's the challenge. If wearing a helmet when riding a bike saves 1 in 1 million child's life - is it worth it? If not letting you kid walk to school prevents 1 in 500,000 children from being abducted or hit with a car, is it worth it? If not letting your kids run around free after school prevents one life-ending accident, is it worth it?

    The reason I ask that is because that is how it has been framed to me by parents today. They all just say even the very, very, very, very small risk isn't worth losing their child. So they chauffeur their kids everywhere, plan out all activities, supervise them and buy all sorts of safety equipment. My parents would be put in jail today - no doubt - as there is no force on earth that would have gotten them to do all that.
    vitanola and Zombie_61 like this.
  6. Not to be argumentative or picking on your in particular, but I hear this kind of statement all the time. Yes, obviously we survived, but many did not. I personally knew at least two kids my age who died on their bicycles where a helmet would have meant only scratches, and numerous people who died in car accidents they surely would have survived with a seatbelt. Just because most of us managed to survive childhood with relatively little thought of safety doesn't mean it's not a good idea or that people who practice it should be shamed for doing so. No one should live in fear of living. But there's also no reason to be cavalier when simple, easy, unobtrusive and inexpensive precautions can be taken.
    Zombie_61 and tonyb like this.
  7. I do still know kids who aren't raised that way -- their parents can't afford to take time off work to chase them around and buy them all kinds of paraphernalia, so they don't. But they're becoming a definite, and rather persecuted, minority.
  8. And if the parents are sacrificing their childrens' basic safety, they *should* be persecuted. An infant car seat should be part and parcel of owning a car and an infant.
  9. Yup. And most smokers don't get lung cancer. And most motorcyclists who ride sans helmet won't die from injuries sustained while motorcycling. But way too many do, in both cases.

    I was lucky to have survived a childhood in the care (such as it was) of an often impulsive and stupidly reckless "adult." He very nearly killed all of us on several memorable occasions. (Being pulled on a sled over snowy roads via a rope tied to the back bumper of a Chevy was fun, no doubt, but, um, seriously? That man couldn't see how deadly that is?) He nearly killed my brother at age 13 when he ran over him with an outboard boat. A two-blade propellor powered by a 70-horsepower Mercury can do big damage in a big hurry.
  10. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    The La Salle Street el stop and a fast ride down to 52nd S Pulaski and the southbound bus after the IRS and I had a collision and I lost my Jaguar.:(
    Great memories of Chicago public transportation.:)
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  11. Our deadly thing to do was to slide down a very steep, snow-covered hill while sitting on an inflated inner-tube -- not a purpose-built "snow tube" with holding grips on the side such as you get in the stores today, but a real inner-tube stolen from a gas station trash pile or somebody's barn. No handles, no grips. Once started, you went down the hill fast, with little control over where you were going, and the primary failsafe being to roll off the side of the tube. This being Maine, the hills were not smooth, and if you encountered a tree stump or a boulder poking out of the snow, well, you better roll off the tube before you hit it.

    I never saw anyone severely injured doing this, but we all had "heard stories" of somebody's cousin in another town who was paralyzed after a particularly grisly tubing accident, so we were as careful as it's possible for a bunch of stupid snow-addled kids to be. What never really worried us was that the hill had a road at its base, and while there was very little traffic on that road in the winter -- it was a seaside street where the only buildings were summer cottages -- there was always the random chance of getting hit. We figured the odds were with us.
  12. I just read an article that American couples are not having enough babies to replace the population. The fertility rate has fallen below the replacement rate (oddly, the article said it had been 2.12 ten years ago and has now fallen below replacement level, but didn't give the new rate - shoddy reporting). But anywho, I was thinking about that in light of this thread.

    Do we think that all of safety precautions that are now either legally or by society pressure "demanded" of parents is contributing to this drop? These new standards require a much greater time and budgetary commitment from parents than, certainly, my parents made when I was born in '64.

    My parents did not watch me all the time, told me flat out "we are not your chauffeur so find walkable activities" (I had to give up Little League when the local league moved from fields near my house to way away) and since I couldn't get a baseball glove out of them - all the protective gear today would have been beyond conception. They didn't view having a child as a full-time, life-changing, mega-financial commitment. To be sure, I was fed, clothes, housed and educated - and they took those responsibilities seriously - but all this other stuff was not what they felt was required. I sincerely don't believe they would have had me if it was - they just weren't that into it.

    Hence, for my parents, and that generation, the time and dollar commitment to having a child was much lower. Do you things some parents today are opting out because of this?
  13. I can't dispute any of this. But I can't help but wonder if raising children in such an insulated "safety bubble" might have robbed them of the opportunity to learn for themselves which situations are or aren't too "dangerous" for them.

    One example that comes to mind is something I see often--someone walking down the street with their attention focused on their cell phone, and they cross a side street without so much as a glance to see if there is any traffic coming toward them. Is this because they're not particularly bright, or because their parents were so overly protective that they've always relied on someone else to take responsibility for their well-being and never learned to watch out for themselves? I realize this is an overly simplified example, but I'm sure you (generally speaking, that is, not directed specifically at you HudsonHawk) understand the point I'm attempting to make. Every parent wants their child/children to be safe from harm, but at what point does protecting your children do more harm than good?
  14. I suspect that's a big part of it. Both culturally and economically, parenting today is vastly different from what it was fifty years ago. Nobody in 1965 was talking about "We've got to get little Euripides into Trendy Valley Pre-School so it'll look good on his college resume! We can't let him fall behind, even though his major pastime right now is eating his own boogers!"

    And for many parents, childraising now is something that comes with a whole set of cultural pressures that weren't really there until the Internet -- you aren't just judged by your neighbors for how you raise your kid, but by the entire internet: mommy blogs, Facebook, Twitter, on and on. A lot of parents find this extremely intimidating, and I wouldn't be surprised if it puts some people off from having kids altogether for fear of Not Measuring Up. If you want to see real cultural intimidation unleashed, read a Mommy Forum or the comments section in one of their blogs. They're absolutely without mercy toward those poor souls who fail to meet their standards.

    As for the question of the "safety bubble," I think one of its more unfortunate side effects is that it creates a pronounced lack of self-confidence in many young people when not in a well-defined, structured setting. I love the theatre kids like they were my own, but with only one notable exception, they all have this problem to a greater or lesser degree, and I account this to the world they grew up in. A lot of bile-spitting middle-aged critics of "whiny millennials" will call them spoiled babies who can't take it, but the real blame should be laid on the parents of those kids who stifled the development of their self-confidence by insisting on structuring everything so carefully around them. Even Doctor Spock wrote about the need to give kids the space they need to develop their own sense of independence.

    Oh, and "mommy blogging" is just another dirty Boys From Marketing racket.
    Zombie_61 likes this.
  15. As the mother of two small children, I think the most expensive thing about young children is daycare. If you want a reasonable life style as a two parent household (assuming you are not independently wealthy or upper middle class or one person works a high paying job) that means both of you work. I'll also add that in many careers a break to stop and take care of children can kill your career. I had a two year break due to cancer treatment, and in my field (academia) it was a struggle to find decent work again. I was at the point I was considering going back to doctoral school.

    Where we live now, it's about $10,500 per year for an infant in daycare and about $5,500 for a preschooler. Infants need a low caretaker to infant ratio (6 to 2) versus preschoolers (14 to 2). We go to the best quality daycare available in our town. We pay $362 a week now for two kids. That is almost what it costs a week for one toddler in the next town over ($390).

    I think a lot of young people are saddled with debt too. Cost of a college education has skyrocketed, so many people are reaching child bearing age still struggling to make ends meet.

    It's also time consuming. Kids are expected to have "activities" now a days. My rule is one to two activities per kid at a time. We are moving to a walkable town. I'd let my eldest kid walk with others at about 8, I think. She's 4 and doesn't get that crossing the road can kill you 100% of the time yet. My son, I expect him to be a trouble maker/ class clown/ jokester. He might be on mommy's house arrest by 8.
  16. I don't disagree that there is value in learning from experience. But I would counter that with the fact that kids don't always think rationally or use the best judgment. When I was 9, I was convinced that a garbage bag would make a fine parachute, and demonstrated such by jumping off the roof. I certainly learned a lesson, but it was only dumb luck that the lesson didn't also come with severe consequences. I understand there's no way you can insulate kids from all danger. So while agree that wrapping them in bubble wrap isn't helping or particularly useful, I think making them wear a seatbelt is. It's the difference between reasonable precaution and irrational fear. I think most people can make that distinction.
    Zombie_61 likes this.
  17. Mozart was composing music by age 5. If you are worried about developing your child into some kind of genius, by Kindergarten that train has left the station. Just relax and learn to cultivate the talents that they have, not the ones you wish they had.
  18. Bushman

    Bushman Call Me a Cab

    Everybody has this niche in life. My mother's was accounting, my father's was operating heavy equipment. Everybody has something in life that they're good at, and they should be allowed to find that out for themselves, not have it forced upon them. My parents let me try out various sporting activities as a kid. None of them particularly excited me, so they never forced me to continue pursuing them. I found out, after some difficulty, that I loved writing and photography. That's why I'm now a photojournalist.
    Zombie_61 likes this.

  19. The thing that always gets me is when someone who can afford to stay home all day with her young kids these days boasts, with an almost arrogant sense of superiority, that she is, " a full time mom."

    Seriously? Does anyone honestly believe that anyone else's parenting is "part time?" In the best of all worlds, small kids would never have ear, throat, or other infections and working parents would never have to call in sick because their kid ran a 102 degree temp last night. Being a mom is never a part time job for those who take the job description seriously. (We dads have a bit more flexibility but that's another reality/ battle front.)

    Both my wife and I ended up making career choices that curtailed much of what we'd planned, simply because upward mobility and being a good parent are often two trains on a collision course. She got her MBA right after the first child arrived, and she had hoped to move up into hospital administration. She even went back to floor nursing at a kids' hospital so that she would only have to work weekends. And yours truly decided that assignments with more time flex were a better choice than high demand assignments where 80 hour weeks (for relatively little more pay) were the norm- even if the latter could have paid more in the long run. Spending time with your kids is not only a luxury these days- it's often a luxury that can only be paid for by forgoing other laudable undertakings.

    Not trolling for sympathy with any of this: it's been a truly great life thus far, and having kids did enrich our lives. However, I can appreciate how changing economic and demographic realities preclude parenthood for many these days. Sadly, the ones who think parenthood through, weigh all of the factors and decide that they'd be better off not having kids are often people who are intelligent, rational, well grounded, and mature: in short, potentially better parents than the ones who become parents without foresight or planning.
  20. We really do need a Quote of the Day thread here. :)
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